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Calibre’s Download App - Yet to Launch but already an Award Winner

27 June 2017

For some time now, Calibre has been working to develop a download app designed specifically for visually impaired people.  We commissioned i-Publishing Consultants to develop the app - CAL Download. This exciting project has now resulted in us being presented with the 2017 Stationers’ Company Award for Social Development.

Download Award









Our new app CAL Download will transform access to books for the blind, partially-sighted and those with reading difficulties.  The judges who chose the Calibre app to win the award said they

.. appreciated not only the use of developing technology but also recognised its importance in terms of the social good. This was seen as an app that has the potential to change people’s lives by utilising digital technology to make Calibre’s existing audio programme products more accessible to those with sight difficulties.

Making access to audio books available as a download service, via an encrypted, copyright-compliant app, with spoken audio prompts puts control firmly in the hands of the user, providing them with instant access, control and valued independence over selecting audiobooks that they have not previously had. Our app, which will be usable on a range of Apple and Android smart phones and tablets, doesn’t require any sight (because of the use of intuitive application-specific gesturing). It has also been designed to support those with macular degeneration (with limited and decreasing levels of sight), and other conditions where people have limited sight providing the largest possible visual clues depending on the size of the device in use. This is a hugely powerful and unique development.

Calibre’s download service will complement our existing postal services available on USB memory sticks or CDs. In due course, existing Calibre members will be able to use this service free of charge in addition or as a replacement for our postal services. New users will be able to join Calibre for existing £35 joining fee and receive lifetime membership of our library with any mix of media, including use of our download app to access Calibre books.

Our download service and the associated apps have been tested by a panel of users during all stages of development. Our team has included volunteers with varying degrees of sight loss, including members who have no sight at all. The test team has also included people with different degrees of experience in using mobile devices.

Our visually impaired members who are used to using mobile technology for other purposes and familiar with gesture control should find the new app particularly easy to use. If this is new to you then there is a bit to learn, familiarising yourself with the tap, double tap and swipe movements that mobile technologies utilise in place of visual clues. For our partially sighted or dyslexic users, we have ensured screens are clear and uncluttered, we offer a choice of colour schemes and keyboards (ABC or QWERTY).

Our next stage in the app launch is to test pilot the app with a larger group of Calibre members before progressing to a full release. To register your interest in joining our test pilots or to access the app at final launch stage, please contact our Membership Services team by telephone or at indicating at which point you would like to be involved. It would also be helpful if you could advise us what mobile device (and ideally which software version) you use and provide some indication as to the extent of your sight loss or other print-related disability.